Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), is a possible rapid, non-contact method for the detection and quantitative analysis of various isotopes including hydrogen critical to a wide range of disciplines (e.g. nuclear energy, hydrogen storage). With no sample preparation requirement, a relatively simple experimental set-up, and the ability to detect all elements in the periodic table in a matter of seconds, the LIBS technique can be employed for the measurement of hydrogen isotopes in virtually any target of interest (gas, liquid, or solid).
However, quantifying the concentration of hydrogen and its isotopes is challenging via laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy due to spectral line broadening and hydrogen contamination issues.
Researchers investigate the effects of varying plasma generation conditions (nanosecond versus femtosecond laser ablation) and ambient environments (argon versus helium gas) on spectral features generated from Zircaloy-4 targets with varying hydrogen isotopic compositions. They employed time-resolved 2D spectral imaging to detail the spatial distribution of species throughout plasma evolution. The results highlight that hydrogen and deuterium isotopic shifts can be measured with a minimal spectral broadening in a ∼ 10 Torr helium gas environment using ultrafast laser-produced plasmas.